Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Meta-knowledge   posted by Fly @ 10/19/2005 01:30:00 PM

Based on Body Size, Bacteria and Elephants Have Similar Metabolism, Ecologists FindUCR-led research team shows that organisms use their biochemical characteristics to overcome limitations arising from their body size

“The researchers’ analysis also shows that the rate of energy consumption per unit body mass declines with growing body size in groups of evolutionarily close organisms, such as mammals. For example, one gram of an elephant’s body uses up 25 times less energy than does one gram of a shrew’s body, accounting for why shrews have to eat more often than elephants. On the other hand, a bacterium, which is not closely related to an elephant in an evolutionary sense, consumes approximately the same energy per unit body mass as the elephant.”

This interests me because it is an attempt to discover meta-knowledge that applies to a much larger set of detailed knowledge in specific domains. I believe such re-organization of information is necessary if there is to be any hope for a human to comprehend even a small fraction of the world’s knowledge. The world has so many stories that a person can only learn a few of the most powerful.Clearly such meta-knowledge has limits. That paragraph could be re-stated to say a shrew burns 25 times as much energy as a bacterium. So the meta-knowledge both captures important information and misses important information.